By Sean Tubbs
Friday, May 7, 2010
, the chairwoman of the
Albemarle County Board of Supervisors
, has requested a pair of changes to board protocol to improve communications between members and staff. During Wednesday’s board meeting, Mallek said she felt excluded from recent conversations about economic development planning.
“To improve the process for policy changes, to build trust in our citizens that we are working for the county’s benefit and their benefit, we need to improve our own communication within the board,” Mallek said.
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Mallek’s request came after she learned about efforts by Supervisor
to help County Executive
develop a draft economic development action plan. That plan was put on the meeting’s agenda by staff as an action item without Mallek’s involvement.
Mallek informed Tucker, and the board, that she will begin holding pre-meeting agenda reviews with Tucker, and vice chairman
She also proposed a board protocol that members inform each other when they meet with staff to discuss changes to policy. She also asked that Tucker inform the chair when such discussions take place with supervisors.
“If I had received a timely e-mail about recent meetings, I would have been able to respond better to citizen questions,” Mallek said. She added that many of the items described in the economic development plan are “excellent.”
said the ‘ad-hoc committee,’ as it was described by Boyd in a recent interview, of business leaders and staff was set up to give staff ideas on economic development, but not to set policy.
“I don’t think it was done behind anyone’s back,” Thomas said. He said the committee was authorized by the board’s decision in January when it approved an action plan for economic development on a 4-2 vote.
disagreed. Both he and Mallek voted against the plan.
“If there was an interest in moving that forward, it should have been followed up with a discussion by the board about how to best do that, not the creation of an ad-hoc committee,” Rooker said. He added that this discussion could have taken the form of a ten-minute conversation.
Boyd took responsibility for the lack of communication, but reminded the board that the plan passed in January called for action within six months.
“I don’t think it was inappropriate to start acting immediately on what we were doing,” Boyd said. “I should have possibly let you know what was going on, but it wasn’t by intent.”
The supervisors decided to postpone the discussion of the economic development action plan to their meeting on June 2, 2010.
Tucker said in an interview that he and Board Clerk Ella Hughes would work with Mallek and Snow to schedule the pre-meeting agenda reviews.
“The chairman used to basically run through the agenda with the clerk,” Tucker said. “But it became an issue and the board said [the review] should be handled more through [both] the clerk and the executive.”
Mallek said in an interview today that she was pleased the reviews would begin.
“It will just help us be more current, and help me do whatever homework I need to do,” Mallek said.